SALEM — Getting the record? That was the easy part for Isaiah White.
Getting the victory? That was much tougher for he and his Beverly Panther teammates.
Host Salem fought the Panthers for the full 48 minutes on a bitterly cold morning at the new Bertram Field. But thanks in large part to White’s 163 yards rushing — allowing the BHS senior captain to become the school’s all-time single season rushing leader — and three touchdown runs, the Panthers prevailed, 20-6, in the 115th playing of “The Game.”
“It’s great,” said White, who finished his senior season with 1,782 yards, 26 touchdowns and 158 points. “Ending it the way it’s supposed to be ending and getting the win against Salem, your arch rival ... you can’t get no better than that.”
Beverly (7-4), which leads the all-time series 57-51-7, prevailed for the eighth time in the last 10 meetings by scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter, then riding a stingy defense, led by senior defensive end Zach Duguid’s dominant play up front, to victory.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound White broke ex-Panther standout Greg Pierce’s previous record of 1,648 yards rushing in 2007 with a 3-yard jaunt on the game’s opening series; on the very next play to scored on 4th-and-goal from the Salem 1-yard line. Matt Madden’s extra point gave Beverly a 7-0 lead it would never relinquish.
White’s second TD, a 2-yard run on 3rd-and-goal on the final play of the first quarter, doubled Beverly’s lead to 14-0. The final tally of his career came early in the third quarter when, following a Salem punt into the wind that travelled minus-6 yards, he ran for 8 yards, then 13 more through a hole on the left side to make it 20-6.
“I was just trying to get the win; the record would come,” said White, who had 2,644 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns in just two seasons at Beverly High after transferring in from St. John’s Prep prior to his junior season. “If you break the record but lose to Salem ... I didn’t even want to think about that.